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Jazz This Week: Joe McPhee and Survival Unit III, Old Webster Jazz and Blues Festival, Snarky Puppy, and More


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It should be another good weekend to get out and hear some live jazz and creative music in St. Louis, with several free shows featuring local performers, plus a couple of noteworthy touring acts coming to town. Let's go to the highlights...

Tonight, there are a couple of free concerts, as guitarist Vincent Varvel plays for the Jazz at Holmes series at Washington University, and trumpeter/singer Dawn Weber performs as part of the “Not So Quiet" concert series at the main branch of the St. Louis Public Library downtown.

Also tonight, there's an eclectic bill of improvised and electronic music at Blank Space, featuring Alex Cunningham, Beauty Pageant, Dave Stone, Eric Hall, Stone Hen, and Willis.

On Friday, you can catch more avant-jazz and free improv from multi-instrumentalist Joe McPhee (pictured), cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm and percussionist Michael Zerang, aka Survival Unit III, at Joe's Cafe.

The trio performed here in 2011 under the auspices of New Music Circle, and it went well enough that NMC's Jeremy Kannapell set up this return date for them as an independent production. If you missed that show, you can get a preview of Friday's action via a video of a full set by McPhee, Lonborg-Holm and Zerang included in part one of StLJN's fall 2014 jazz preview.

Elsewhere around town on Friday, writer and poet Michael Castro leads his “poetrio" in a show at Tavern of Fine Arts; Second Generation Swing plays for dancers at the Casa Loma Ballroom; singer Feyza Eren and pianist Curt Landes perform at The Wine Press; and saxophonist Austin Cebulski leads a trio at Cigar Inn.

On Saturday, the annual Old Webster Jazz and Blues Festival will take place in the Old Webster business district surrounding the intersection of Lockwood and Gore Avenues in Webster Groves. This year's edition of the free, all-day event will have two stages featuring performances from the Funky Butt Brass Band; the Webster University faculty jazz ensemble; The 442s with Erin Bode; an ad hoc group assembled for the occasion and dubbed the St. Louis Jazz All-Stars; the Webster Groves High School Jazz Band; trumpeter Jim Manley and Wild, Cool and Swingin'; and more.

Also on Saturday, singer Gene Lynn brings his smooth sound to Evangeline's; fusion band Koplant No plays at the Tavern of Fine Arts; and keyboardist Adam Maness and drummer Irvin Neal will perform at Troy's Jazz Gallery.

On Sunday, the jazz/funk/world music ensemble Snarky Puppy (pictured) will be back in town for an encore performance at the Old Rock House. Since their last gig here in May 2013 at The Demo, they've stayed quite busy, spending this past summer playing the festival circuit in the USA, Europe and Asia and promoting their sixth album, We Like It Here, which came out in February. You can read more about them and see a couple of videos of them in action (though several other clips have disappeared due to link rot) in this post made before their last St. Louis appearance.

Looking beyond the weekend, on Monday saxophonist Paul DeMarinis will lead a sextet performing his original compositions in a concert at Moore Auditorium on the Webster University campus.

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This story appears courtesy of St. Louis Jazz Notes by Dean Minderman.
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